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Shome Basu | Updated on December 07, 2018

Meet The Moustache Brothers, a family that lives on satire

In Mandalay, Myanmar, comedian and satirist Lu Maw entertains a small group of foreigners inside a modest garage. Comedy group The Moustache Brothers was led by Lu Maw’s elder brother Par Par Lay, whose satire about the Burmese junta cost him multiple detentions in jail during the Saffron revolution in 2007. He was ultimately incarcerated at the infamous Ching Krang Hka in the northern Kachin State.

Par Par Lay died in jail in 2013, but his brothers decided to take the regime head-on. Lu Maw and his cousin Lu Zau performed in Mandalay’s backstreets, criticising the military general and politician Than Shwe and his junta, even as the pro-democracy struggle raged on in the country. Today, the family openly critiques the junta and other authoritarian regimes around the world.

With his goatee, Lu Maw resembles the late Vietnamese revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh.

Come evening, the garage turns into a small stage, with a wooden bed and a few plastic chairs making up the seating. The eight-member family troupe appears, comprising everyone from the elderly grandmother to the ten-year-old granddaughter. On the walls are photos of Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi attending their show. The cheroot-smoking dance director says their primary focus is to continue celebrating Burmese culture, which he feels is slowly fading. Though famous across Myanmar, the family finds that locals still fear visiting them, owing to the crackdown under the previous regime. At 67, Lu Maw remains confident, he says the fight against autocratic regimes will go on.

Shome Basu is a Delhi-based freelance photographer

Published on December 07, 2018

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